November 22, 1963

Airman 3rd Class Rood

In the summer of 1963, I was looking forward to beginning college but being one of ten children in a blue-collar family, and being unable to find a job since high school graduation, it seemed unlikely that would happen. My scholarship would cover only tuition, which left books, room and board. I had received no information or advice about student aid and felt hopeless about my future. Home life was becoming increasingly more difficult so when Sgt. George Sterling, US Air Force recruiter, came to the house, I was ripe for the picking. Before I realized what was happening, I was stepping off a plane in San Antonio, headed for basic training at Lackland A.F.B. in Texas. Continue reading “November 22, 1963” »

FOIA Requests Sent to Richmond on Global Warming

On August 26, 2010 at a town hall meeting at James Madison University, Harrisonburg, Virginia, Governor Bob McDonnell stated, in response to a question I posed on global warming, that the science of anthropogenic climate change was debatable. When I countered that there was not significant debate on this issue, he replied, “I’m telling you, there is.”

At that same town meeting I also spoke with Deputy Secretary of Natural Resources and Senior Advisor on Energy, Maureen Matsen. She stated that the science is not clear that climate change is man made, going on to say that, in any event, addressing energy issues was synonymous with addressing anthropogenic climate change. The problem with this reply is that it implies that as long as we get the amount of energy we need, it does not matter that the source of energy is climate harming fossil fuels. When I suggested to her that the United States has hundreds of years of coal and natural gas, and, therefore, there would be no reason to develop renewables except for concern with greenhouse gases, she chose not to respond.

I thereupon sent freedom of information requests to both Governor McDonnell and the Secretary of Natural Resources, asking each to produce any documents they had to support their positions that anthropogenic climate change was invalid science or debatable. The response was: Continue reading “FOIA Requests Sent to Richmond on Global Warming” »

This post was submitted by Bishop Dansby.

Fair Questions for the DNR

With a summit on justice issues just passed, it’s a good time to ask if the local newspaper can be a part of the discussion, or is part of the problem.

Take, for instance, last Tuesday’s front page (November 9, 2010). Four teens were arrested in Georgia for a murder at a party that got out of hand.  The story was sensationalism.  That’s not a dig.  During my tenure as a newspaper editor many, many years ago, a story being sensational was enough reason to run it.  One editor I worked with called them “Hey, Mabel” stories.  Others referred to them as back-fence stories.  You run them because people are talking or because you want them to.

What’s less understandable is the information the newspaper chose to run about those arrested.  Their names, ages, and addresses did not appear in the story.  The only identifying information was their surnames, run underneath photos cropped so tightly they purveyed only one fact about the suspects: They were black. Continue reading “Fair Questions for the DNR” »

This post was submitted by JGFitzgerald.

New LEED Office Building In Grottoes

Wellness Concepts Inc., Valley Leader in Green Building

Daniel and Cathie Atwell, owners of Wellness Concepts, since 1990, are building a new home for their business in Grottoes, VA. This is no ordinary building, as the Atwells, along with their contractor, Glen Stoltfus, are intent on making it the first Platinum, LEED certified building in the Central Shenandoah Valley.

LEED ( Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is a nationally accepted certification program that is a third-party verified, green building rating system. A building receives points for energy efficiency, using reclaimed materials, water conservation, indoor air quality, and waste mitigation, just to name a few.

This 18,000 square foot building has outside walls made with insulated concrete forms or ICF’s.   Continue reading “New LEED Office Building In Grottoes” »

This post was submitted by Sally Newkirk.

Patriotism Prevails

I suppose it is the confluence of Veterans Day, Election Day and of course, Halloween that compels me to re-examine my deepest feelings about the country in which I am so fortunate to have been born. I fly our flag on appropriate holidays, remembering the days I was in uniform performing color-guard duty. I became very proficient at raising, lowering and folding Old Glory. Now, I just spinher around the staff, fasten her with a rubber band and stick her in the corner of the garage until she is needed again. Continue reading “Patriotism Prevails” »

EMU A Door To Better Things For Two German Alumni

Carl Wesselhoeft, EMU class of 1955

HARRISONBURG, Va. – Both of them were born in eastern Germany, both fled their homes in the aftermath of the second World War, and both – through a series of coincidences – arrived in North America as laborers on Mennonite farms before attending Eastern Mennonite College (now University) in the 1950s.

The second weekend in October, 2010, Carl Wesselhoeft, EMU class of 1955, and Werner Will, class of 1960, returned to Virginia to celebrate their 55th and 50th class reunions during homecoming at Eastern Mennonite University. Though they only lived briefly in Harrisonburg, both men said they gained much-needed opportunity and purpose at EMU. Continue reading “EMU A Door To Better Things For Two German Alumni” »

This post was submitted by Andrew Jenner.

Celebrating Dr. Joanne Gabbin, Celebrating Lucille Clifton


Flickr image shared by permission of Joanne Gabbin

Joanne Gabbin read at Lucille Clifton's Celebration

When I first met Dr. Joanne Gabbin late in 2004, it was clear she heard a different drummer. Here was a woman who dreamed big, kept her feet on the ground, and made things happen in Harrisonburg. She is owner of Franklin Street Gallery, English professor at JMU, and the visionary behind Furious Flower Poetry Center at JMU.

In June 2009, Furious Flower sponsored a seminar with African American poet Lucille Clifton. Eight months later, February 2010, Clifton unexpectedly died. On Sept 21 2010, Furious Flower brought 73 poets and poetry fans together to celebrate the life Lucille Clifton, and the free event was attended over 1,000 people from all over the state and country.   Continue reading “Celebrating Dr. Joanne Gabbin, Celebrating Lucille Clifton” »

This post was submitted by Diana Woodall.

Protesters Rally at DMV in Harrisonburg: “Hey McDonnell Shame on You. Immigrants are People, Too!”

Harrisonburg- On Wednesday, a crowd of forty community members gathered in front of the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) in Harrisonburg to call attention to Governor Bob McDonnell’s anti-immigrant, discriminatory policies including his recent decision to make it difficult for legal immigrants to obtain a driver’s license.

Governor McDonnell has angered Virginia residents with his latest call for the DMV to deny federal Employment Authorization Documents (EAD) as a form of identification in obtaining a driver’s license which protesters say is an act of discrimination against all immigrants. The law causes significant risk for Virginians, especially those who are undocumented, and those on Temporary Protection Status from countries such as Haiti, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Somalia and Sudan.

The protesters stood on the sidewalk in front of the DMV chanting Continue reading “Protesters Rally at DMV in Harrisonburg: “Hey McDonnell Shame on You. Immigrants are People, Too!”” »

This post was submitted by Julie Blust .

Greenhouse is Built for New Community Project

A greenhouse can be built in an affordable manner, like this one for the New Community Project in Harrisonburg. Photo: Diana Woodall

On a warm Sunday afternoon, October 10, members and friends of New Community Project in Harrisonburg met at 715 N. Main St and contructed an inexpensive greenhouse.

The project was done in conjunction with the call from for communities across the nation and world to take action to address climate change.  (350 stands for the Continue reading “Greenhouse is Built for New Community Project” »

This post was submitted by Diana Woodall.

Do We Need to Correct Our Thinking About Corrections?

As a a long time advocate of criminal justice reform, I was heartened by something our new governor Bob McDonnell included in his January 10 Inaugural Address to the Joint Houses:

“Tough sentences are only half of the equation in making Virginia safer. We must provide real opportunities to prisoners to turn their lives around, and to become responsible and contributing members of society when their sentences have concluded. A failure to do so only leads to more crime, and more victims. I will work with faith-based and community organizations to create an effective prisoner re-entry program to keep people out of jails and prisons. It’s smart government, and will save money.”

These are bold words from a governor of a state with the 8th highest per capita incarceration rate in the US, the nation with the distinction of holding more prisoners than any other country in the world, including China. Continue reading “Do We Need to Correct Our Thinking About Corrections?” »

This post was submitted by Harvey Yoder.

EMU Signs Agreement to Build Va.’s Largest Solar Panel Array

Posted below is a news release from Eastern Mennonite University marking the formal announcement that the university will be proceeding with plans to install solar panels on the library roof. This effort, led by Tony Smith, the co-director of EMU’s MBA program, was first announced last spring. In April, the city council approved a rezoning to allow the construction of the project.

At the time, Smith and his colleagues hoped to install enough panels on campus to generate 1 megawatt of power. Over the summer, a number of factors prompted the university to scale back the solar project. The first phase, which began this week, will generate 104.3 kilowatts with panels on the library roof, and will still be the largest solar array in the state. The university plans a second round of construction to install panels on canopies above a parking lot, adding another 300 kilowatts of capacity. Continue reading “EMU Signs Agreement to Build Va.’s Largest Solar Panel Array” »

Still ‘Speedy’ After All These Years

Phil Helmuth, executive director of development at EMU, accepts the keys and title to Margaret Martin Gehman's 1967 Volkswagen Beetle. Photo by Jim Bishop

HARRISONBURG – At age 88, Margaret Martin Gehman of Harrisonburg has lost a little of her trademark drive, largely because she has parted company with a faithful friend.

Dr. Gehman and her trusty, albeit a bit rusty, mechanical steed, a blue 1967 Volkswagen Beetle, are almost synonymous to many observers. For years she motored the streets of the greater Harrisonburg area even though she preferred walking to as many destinations as possible. She has been a resident of Continue reading “Still ‘Speedy’ After All These Years” »

This post was submitted by Jim Bishop.

Valley Delegation to Attend Stewart’s Million Moderate March

Shenandoah Valley residents are organizing to attend Jon Stewart’s “Rally to Restore Sanity,” scheduled for October 30 on the National Mall.  Lowell Fulk, among others, is extending an invitation for people up and down the Valley to carpool to the event described by Stewart as being “for the people who’ve been too busy to go to rallies, who actually have lives and families and jobs (or are looking for jobs) — not so much the Silent Majority as the Busy Majority. If we had to sum up the political view of our participants in a single sentence… we couldn’t. That’s sort of the point.”

Currently the Valley-centric Facebook event shows close to 2,000 people having been invited to attend.  See Fulk’s email below: Continue reading “Valley Delegation to Attend Stewart’s Million Moderate March” »

Skatan Worshipers #2

Skateboarding on Court Square

Skatan Worshipers is an annual art show that takes place at The Artful Dodger every October right here in Harrisonburg. The main focus of this show is to showcase the aesthetic achievements of skateboard culture. Maybe you caught the exhibit and/or opening last year, maybe you just saw a bunch of people skateboarding downtown on Oct. 2nd and wondered why, well this is why. Continue reading “Skatan Worshipers #2” »

This post was submitted by Paul Somers.

The Making of a 91-yr-old Activist

Maxine Keier, Photo by Diana Woodall

“I’m 91 years old and these are the scariest times of my life.” This statement made by Maxene Kleier of Bridgewater piqued my curiosity, so recently I arranged to interview her at her home. Why do some of us identify as activists, or progressives, and some don’t?

DW: You say you’ve been an activist since you were born?

MK: My parents both believed we all have an obligation to other people. My mother volunteered until she was in her late 70’s–for Meals on Wheels, for example. I was raised in that tradition. I think some of the problems of today are related to the fact that real caring for one another is not exactly held as a desirable value, as it could be. I’ve never seen such disregard for ethics as I see now.

We are living in a secular system, and any attempt to change it into a theocracy is very scary, and we do have that going on now. Continue reading “The Making of a 91-yr-old Activist” »

This post was submitted by Diana Woodall.

Governor McDonnell: Global Warming Skeptic

Governor Bob McDonnell held a town meeting at JMU last week. I had an opportunity to ask him whether he was prepared to support policies that would reduce greenhouse emissions to avoid the worst impacts of global warming (see video inset).
In the course of his answer, he revealed that he thought it was still debatable as to whether climate change was anthropogenic (caused by man). This and other statements made it clear that none of his policies would be based on the assumption that man’s use of fossil fuels was the cause of climate change.

It is clear that this administration takes its cues from coal and the electric utilities that run largely on coal. McDonnell specifically stated that he is a “supporter of coal.” He more than once stated that no one Continue reading “Governor McDonnell: Global Warming Skeptic” »

This post was submitted by Bishop Dansby.

Coffee Party learns about hydro-fracking

An example of a hydrofracking site in New York

The Coffee Party, a national response to the infamous “Tea Party” movement, is a group who wants to see co-operation and positive solutions in government. A local chapter meets on the second Saturday of the month in Bridgewater.

On Saturday morning August 14, about 35 folks showed up to learn about the current status of the controversial natural gas mining process known as “hydro-fracking” in Rockingham county. The presenter was Kim Sandum, director of the Community Alliance for Preservation, or CAP.

Hydraulic fracturing, or “hydro-fracking,” is an industrial-scale process that involves injecting toxic chemicals, sand, and millions of gallons of water under high pressure directly into shale formations. This toxic brew, along with any natural gas, is then extracted, or leaked to the surface. There is great potential for contamination of sources of drinking water, among other hazards, including destruction or damage of national forest and small county roads. Continue reading “Coffee Party learns about hydro-fracking” »

This post was submitted by Diana Woodall.

Passing Loudly in the Dark

The Obama administration and the current Congress faced two historically difficult problems, namely, an unexpected financial breakdown, and global warming. The other issues are relatively routine: terrorism, health care, immigration, the largest environmental disaster in U.S. history, and dealing with the long term cost of entitlements. What! Are you saying that terrorism and health care are routine, or near ruination of the whole Gulf of Mexico is routine?

The fact is that terrorism is a scourge so surreal that it seems more suited to the Old Testament that the 21st Century. Yes, it, too is historically unmanageable and disruptive. Presidents and Congresses since Truman have tried to implement some form of universal health care, and all have failed, so health care reform can hardly be considered routine under normal circumstances. The Gulf Oil leak feels like a Hollywood disaster movie.

And yet, these extraordinary problems are Continue reading “Passing Loudly in the Dark” »

This post was submitted by Bishop Dansby.

Will malpractice reform really lower healthcare costs?

Doctors, do you really think getting the attorneys off of our backs will lessen healthcare costs? Think again.

I’ve used the argument dozens of times myself and it goes something like this: Tonight in the USA at least a thousand people will visit America’s ERs with complaints of a headache. Doctors will order a thousand CT scans to the tune of nearly a thousand dollars a piece to diagnose the one patient who has a rare aneurismal bleed. They say the million dollars of expense is necessary because of the threat of a malpractice suit if the one patient who needs the CT scan didn’t get it. We call this scenario “defensive medicine.”

But I’m not buying my argument anymore. It just doesn’t pan out.  Republicans are crying for repeal. Let’s scrap this healthcare bill and start over. Doctors have been crying for a long time: Tort reform is the answer. “Get us out from under the threat of malpractice!”

Is tort reform the answer? Continue reading “Will malpractice reform really lower healthcare costs?” »

This post was submitted by Harry Kraus, MD.

Liberty and Justice for All

When the Age of Enlightenment was suddenly and inexorably replaced with the Age of Romanticism at the end of the 18th Century, the notion of liberty was exalted and the virtue of Justice was trampled by the mobs blinded by vengeance. The American Revolution straddled those two eras. Reason and Justice were the foundations of that revolution but once underway, reason (Thomas Jefferson, Ben Franklin, etal) was set aside in favor of angry rhetoric (Patrick Henry, Thomas Paine, etal) and the middle ground vanished. One was either a Tory or a Patriot. Bystanders were advised to get out of the way.  It seems that now we Americans are being compelled to choose between Right and Left.  While the Right preoccupies itself with Liberty, the Left tenaciously holds on to its complementary value, Justice.